As part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) to track the presence and spread of COVID-19 and its variants across the country. NWSS was built upon a previous wastewater monitoring program that Biobot collaborated on with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CDC.
In April 2022, the CDC selected Biobot Analytics to conduct wastewater analysis for NWSS and to enroll more locations across the country in the program. The partnership expanded to include mpox (formerly monkeypox) wastewater analysis in September 2022, and most recently, the contract between Biobot and the CDC was extended for an additional six months, through the end of July 2023.
Since April 2022, Biobot has enrolled more than 400 locations from over 250 different counties, across a total of 50 states and U.S. Territories, providing coverage to more than 60 million people nationwide.
Biobot tests each location for SARS-CoV-2, MPXV (the virus that causes mpox), and conducts genomic sequencing to identify COVID-19 variants. To date, Biobot has processed 21,000 wastewater samples for NWSS. To achieve this, our team has worked quickly to onboard wastewater treatment facilities into the Biobot system, rapidly enrolling new participants into the program.
Recently, NWSS has also been expanded to include testing for mpox. Utilizing the NWSS framework, mpox monitoring was added in just a few short months to existing wastewater sampling for all currently enrolled facilities and will continue through the current contract extension. It is crucial to have ongoing surveillance for highly infectious diseases such as mpox — continued wastewater monitoring can facilitate early detection, allowing for rapid response and mitigation should mpox reemerge.
Biobot wastewater analysis has informed program participants, the public, and public health responses across the U.S.
Throughout the process of working with the CDC, we’ve learned that it takes more than wastewater testing and analysis to run a successful wastewater monitoring program. In addition to processing samples for MPXV and SARS-CoV-2 in our laboratory in Boston, Biobot supports the NWSS program and participating wastewater treatment facilities in many ways — from enrolling and onboarding new locations, to answering questions and providing educational opportunities for participants to learn and connect with our in-house experts.
Our Biobot team is made up of robust laboratory operations and R+D personnel in addition to our customer support, sales, government affairs, data science, communications, epidemiology group, and more, all working together to ensure the success of the program. In this space, Biobot is paving the way for public and private sector partnerships to be an effective tool for achieving public health goals.
Wastewater intelligence: a key to predicting our public health future
Throughout the pandemic, wastewater monitoring has been a reliable indicator of disease prevalence, and has become even more important as other data sources (such as clinical cases) have become less comprehensive. We see a future in which wastewater intelligence platforms (such as NWSS) continue monitoring for COVID-19 and mpox, but also expand to other infectious diseases, emerging pathogens, and beyond.
Investing in expanding the testing capacities of these wastewater monitoring systems will continue to help inform proactive public health responses. Stay tuned for future Biobot product launches and wastewater platform expansions as we continue to grow our team and capabilities!
To learn more about how wastewater analysis can help your community, get in touch with us here.
Written by Biobot Analytics
Biobot provides wastewater epidemiology data & analysis to help governments & businesses focus on public health efforts and improve lives.